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Module HTA-3106:
Early Medieval Wales WLH

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Overall aims and purpose

Archaeological evidence, used alongside written and other sources is critical to our understanding of the evolution of the early medieval kingdoms of Wales c AD 350-1050, the lives people led and the expansion of Christianity.

  1. This module aims to give students a critical understanding of the archaeological evidence, both structural and artefactual, relevant to the study of early medieval Wales and how it has been interpreted.
  2. To set this alongside other relevant evidence e.g. written sources, place-names, where appropriate.
  3. To provide students with the knowledge and skills to understand its significance and cthe changing debates surrounding its interpretation.
  4. Students will also be expected to consider comparable evidence from elsewhere in Britain and Ireland, where relevant.

Course content

The period from the collapse of Roman rule to the coming of the Normans was formative in the evolution of Wales, its language and identity. Yet we know less about Wales c. AD300–1050 than any other part of Britain and Ireland. This module will explore the growing body of archaeological evidence for Wales which will then be interrogated alongside the sparse written sources in order to analyse how people lived – their settlements, economy, society and beliefs, and how these changed over time. It will consider geography and climate; the nature of the written sources and other evidence used in addition to the archaeology; the Roman impact and its legacy; the emergence of the early medieval Welsh kingdoms; inscribed stones; settlement and society – e.g. hillforts and other high status sites, unenclosed settlements and farmsteads; exploitation of the landscape, farming, craftworking and the economy; conversion to Christianity and the rise of the Church; burial, monasticism and belief; early Christian art; Offa’s Dyke and relations with Anglo-Saxon England; the Viking impact.

Assessment Criteria


(lower Ds) will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partly-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies.


(B) Will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria in the paragraph above


(A) Will show this solid achievement across the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an ability to analyse and evaluate a variety of arguments and opinions concerning the interpretation of the archaeological and other relevant evidence.

  2. Demonstrate an in depth knowledge of the main types of archaeological evidence for early medieval Wales and an awareness of relevant comparitive evidence

  3. Be able to carry out research for, plan and write an essay/report on a relevant subject to the module demonstrating critical understanding of the material analysed.

  4. Be able to present and evaluate relevant archaeological and other information in the form of an oral presentation using Powerpoint.

  5. Be able to present relevant analysis and arguments in the form of examination answers, and back these with appropriate archaeological and other relevant evidence.

  6. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the major developments and changes in archaeological evidence for the period and the significance of these.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ORAL Seminar Presentation with Powerpoint

Students will prepare a 10 minute presentation on a given topic with Powerpoint which will include appropriate illustrations. This will be followed by all students in the seminar group discussing the topic in its wider context.

EXAM Two hour unseen examination

Two hour unseen examination. Answer 2 questions.


2,000 word essay to be chosen from a list of topics


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Lectures provide module framework


Fieldtrip and museum visit to see sites and artefacts at first hand

Private study 164

In depth seminars with presentations and discussions


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions


Resource implications for students


Reading list

See list in handbook

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: